The strongest typhoon to hit southern Vietnam in 16 years made landfall in Khanh Hoa Province in the early hours of Saturday, Nov. 4, according to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide.
Typhoon Damrey was maintaining maximum wind speeds of 93 mph at landfall. Areas from the south-central coast of Vietnam southward to Vũng Tàu were directly impacted by the storm system. Wind damage near the landfall area was significant, causing ripped off roofs, knocked down electricity poles, downed trees, and widespread power outages. Interacting with a cold front from the north, Damrey caused torrential rain across the entire central and south-central region, with flooding and landslides reported. Further impacts are predicted as rain is expected to continue through Wednesday, and many rivers and lakes are reaching capacity.
According to AIR, while Vietnam is no stranger to typhoons, the southern part of the country is rarely troubled by storms. This year, Damrey is the 16th typhoon to make landfall in the Northwest Pacific, the fourth to make landfall in Vietnam, and the strongest to hit south of Qui Nhon in 16 years since Typhoon Lingling. The country is still reeling from a tropical storm that struck more than two weeks earlier, which caused massive flooding and mudslides farther north in central Vietnam, submerging more than 30,000 houses, and damaging infrastructure and crops.
Typhoon Damrey's timeline
Damrey formed near the east coast of the Philippines (where it was known as Typhoon Ramil) and made landfall there as a tropical depression on Nov. 1. It caused massive floods and landslides in southern Luzon and the Visayan Islands. Moving swiftly west, Damrey intensified over the next two days to a Category 1, according to the Saffir-Simpson scale, in the Pacific Basin before slamming into Vietnam’s south-central coast.
According to AIR, after landfall, Damrey lost force within hours. It passed quickly through Vietnam, moving northwest to neighboring southern Cambodia on Sunday afternoon, local time. Precipitation from Damrey may cause continued major flooding in south-central Vietnam over the next two days, with continued flash flooding and landslides.
Damrey's damage, for now
The country's Central Steering Committee for Disaster Prevention and Control said the typhoon leveled more than 1,300 houses and damaged nearly 115,000. The resort town and industrial center of Nha Trang, capital of Khanh Hoa, was directly hit by strong Category 1-equivalent wind, along with rain and flooding.
Flooding is widespread in the central region. More than 1,700 people were evacuated from the Cần Giờ District in Ho Chi Minh City, and tourists were evacuated as Hoi An Town in Quang Nam was submerged with waist-deep water.
According to AIR, in Vietnam, the majority of residential structures are reinforced concrete low- to mid-rise buildings. However, there is still a large portion of residential structures that are unreinforced masonry buildings, especially those that are low-rise, which tend to fail to follow local building codes and are constructed without proper supervision, which makes them vulnerable to natural hazards, such as typhoons.